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Dig Dis Sci. 1998 Dec;43(12):2719-26.

Cholinergic stimulation and nonadrenergic, noncholinergic relaxation of human colonic circular muscle in idiopathic chronic constipation.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Human Physiology and Institute of Clinical Surgery, Medical School, University of Bari, Italy.


The aim of our study was to further investigate the pathophysiological mechanism underlying idiopathic chronic constipation (ICC), a disorder of colonic motility. A possible alteration of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission and also the role of inhibitory neurotransmitters such as nitric oxide (NO), 5'-adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) has been evaluated on preparations of distal colon from patients with or without ICC. The isometric tension was recorded from isolated circular muscle strips of both experimental groups during pharmacological and electrical field stimulation (EFS). The contractile response obtained by acetylcholine (ACh 20 microM), EFS (20 Hz, 20 V, 1 msec, pulse trains lasting 1 min) and substance P (SP 1 microM) was significantly lower in ICC than in control preparations. The effect of inhibitory nonadrenergic, noncholinergic innervation was evaluated using EFS at low frequencies (0.5-8 Hz), after cholinergic and sympathetic blockade with atropine (3 microM) and guanethidine (3 microM). The maximum relaxation value expressed as percentage of inhibition of SP-induced contraction was significantly higher in ICC than in control preparations (87+/-2.4 and 67+/-6.3, respectively; P<0.05). Experiments with substances that antagonize or reduce the effect of putative inhibitory mediators (VIP 6-28, apamin and N(G)-nitro-L-arginine) suggest that an alteration in NO and ATP release is present in ICC preparations. In particular at a higher inhibitory frequency NO-mediated relaxation is enhanced in ICC vs control, supporting the hypothesis that excessive NO production may be involved in pathophysiological mechanism of constipation.

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